Thursday, September 17, 2009

The worst of the financial crisis and the typhoon that threatened Sibos in Hong Kong may have passed, but guest blogger, Andy Schmidt of TowerGroup, says considerable uncertainty surrounding certain aspects of the financial services industry remains.


And so we find ourselves at the end of another successful Sibos. One year (and one typhoon!) after the fall of Lehman, despite being humbled, the financial services industry is peering out at the world with an air of cautious optimism. 

Of course, there’s a lot of work still to do to recover. Significant challenges with respect to transparency and liquidity can still wreak havoc in the marketplace. Financial market harmonisation remains more a dream than reality, and regulations like SEPA are still without a final implementation date. Therefore, uncertainty of all kinds will continue to challenge the financial services community for the foreseeable future. 

Therein lays the point. The financial services industry is a community whose members rely on one another for survival and success, now more than ever. We’ve survived — especially in the payments sector — because of our ability to work together. And as a community, we’re looking at ways to work together that we would never have considered before the crisis, considering approaches like collaboration, competition, and joint ventures that were “unnatural acts” a short 12 months ago.

Broader standards adoption will certainly ease the transition toward shared infrastructures, and innovation will uncover new ways to achieve greater efficiencies in serving our clients and partners. 

However, it’s the ability, opportunity, and (dare I say) responsibility of the financial services community to speak to the regulators in simple language that will provide us the greatest opportunity to shape our collective future. Remember, the regulators need our input to better understand where the risks truly are, and engagement with the regulators provides us a voice in the direction our industry heads.

So when we reconvene, I expect we’ll have stories (and perhaps even case studies) to share on how the market has evolved and improved in 12 months’ time, showing how, together, we can create a stronger, better industry. See you in Amsterdam!

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